MIA says NFL middle finger incident was a tribute to Hindu goddess Matangi
'You can Wikipedia it,' said the artist in an interview with NPR
Speaking on NPR – via Consequence of Sound – the artist said that she was actually displaying something called the Matangi 'mudra'. She commented: "In America you have gang signs, and people throw up initials and stuff like that. Well, 5,000 years ago, there was thing called a mudra, which is your sitting position when you do yoga or you're meditating or praying or whatever. And you have different ones based on what you're meditating over. There’s not a lot of them that are named after gods and goddesses, but the middle finger is specifically named Matangi – the Matangi mudra."
Earlier this year, MIA had said that the gesture was about "display[ing] female empowerment through being punk rock." When it was suggested by NPR that the gesture also had another reading, she responded: "It's cultural! In my country, it's godly. OK?" She added: "Of course the NFL is not believing that, because the NFL does not believe in any other culture outside of the NFL. But it's true; you can Wikipedia it. You can just say 'Matangi' and 'mudra', and you'll see it’s the middle finger." 'Matangi' is also the name of MIA's new album, which is out now.
MIA had previously accused the American football governing body of making a "scapegoat" of her. The NFL are suing the star for $1.5 million (£900,000) in a legal dispute that has been underway the past 18 months, following her 2012 half-time performance at the Super Bowl XLVI. At the half-time show, during which the singer performed alongside Madonna and Nicki Minaj, MIA was seen to give the camera the middle finger midway through 'Give Me All Your Luvin' while mouthing "I don't give a shit".
When news of the legal action was first revealed, MIA's lawyer Howard King stated that the singer would soon go public about the ongoing battle. On September 23 she uploaded a video of herself talking on the phone to an unnamed person about the incident. In the video, MIA is seen wearing an Oakland Raiders top and accusing the NFL of a "massive display of corporation dick-shaking", arguing that there were far more offensive images on show during the performance than that of her middle finger.